1. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    Gandalf the young?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by losthawken, May 26, 2009.

    Hey all,

    I've been trying to brainstorm up a character and having a little trouble. I didn't think that this fit into the character development section but I could be wrong. Mods may feel free to move as necc.

    So this character is supposed to evolve into the classic warrior-wizard-sage, Gandalf/Merlin/fill in the blank. But I'm having a hard time imagining what these characters were like in their VERY FIRST adventure.

    I thought I'd poll the audience and see what you think. Lets take Gandalf for example:

    On his very first adventure (many ages before the time of hobbits) what was he like? Was he rash and impulsive? A leader? A follower? passionate? patient? What did he rely on before he gained the eons of wisdom and experience?

    I have a sneaking suspicion that he may not have been a very exciting character until he matured. What are your thoughts?

    ~JG
     
  2. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    I dont know about gandelf but for say Dumbuledor(sp?) from Harry Potter, i think he would think he was like a male Hermione Granger smart, interlectual and wise.

    maby gandelf was like Frodo. don't quote me on that as i have never read the lotr books or the hobbit.
     
  3. seije
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    seije Member

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    As the old saying goes, you learn more from your mistakes than from your triumphs. I'd like to think that a young gandalf would be a bit reckless, possibly even overconfident. I wouldn't see him as completely opposite of the character portrayed in the movies (tbh, i never read the LotR series), but if i were to write 'young gandalf' i'd make him smart, but a bit on the impulsive side. He'd probably be a bit sarcastic (but not rude), and while he would hold great respect for people of authority (you don't become a wizard by challenging your masters) i could see him bending the rules every now and then.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    There have been books about Merlin as a teenager. Look up the author. T.A. Barron.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Gandalf himself, and the other four wizards, looked as old men from when they first appeared in Middle Earth. Telling a story of his younger days would definitely go against Tolkien's intent, which was to keep his origins mysterious and ambiguous.

    However, if your wizard is your own creation (which I would recommend anyway), you can certainly do what you want.

    Personally, I like keeping such a powerful figure mysterious in his origins.
     
  6. Atma
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    Atma Member

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    Have any of you seen the new british TV show called "Merlin"? I know the show is merely so-so, but it's basically Merlin as young boy, before he discovers his powers. The story is out of context, and he's young at the same time Arthur is young, but my point is that it might be worth checking into if you want to get some inspiration or insight into new great wizards. I only saw the first few episodes, because I thought it was rather boring. But nonetheless, it's Merlin as young teenager! (yes, THE Merlin ;) )
     
  7. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    Thanks y'all,

    You've given me some good stuff to think about.

    fantasy girl - Dumbledore is a great example of the type of character I want my character to eventually become, and I really like the connection with Hermoine - Oh and you absolutely MUST read LOTR!!!!

    Seije - Great input! I was thinking along some of these lines, but was having trouble putting them into words.

    Cogito - I would never dream of writing on behalf of Tolkein. I just chose Gandalf because he is my favorite example of this type of character. I'll have to real the Silmarillion to understand his wizards better I think.

    I certainly could do what I want. But what I want is a character that could grow into a sage in a believable way. I think that that puts certain limitations on the character's personality, don't you agree?

    Thanks to everyone else for the other comments on young Merlin too! I may have to look into them.

    ~JG
     
  8. fantasy girl
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    fantasy girl Contributing Member

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    thats alright, as i said don't quote me on the lotr one. I started to read the hobbit a few years back but never got into it, maybe it was coz' i was to young, i really should try them again
     
  9. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    You could say that Belgarath the Sorcerer is kind of like David Eddings' version of gandalf. I can't recall all of the books/series (he wrote a lot), but the first with Belgarath shows him as a Gandalf figure (old and wise) while a separate prequel series covers his youth. I don't recall many details since it has been many years since I read them, but I do remember they were good! That's certainly not a quick answer, but it might help somewhat to see how other authors have handled the question. And you'd probably like the books anyway.

    Personally, I think he would be extremely inquisitive. A very curious mind, always asking why, always wanting to learn how things work. Naturally this would get him into all kinds of trouble, as he just can't resist the need to find answers. He breaks into the forbidden room, discovers things he shouldn't know, finds himself in great danger, vexes and delights his teachers by turn, and despite his brilliance in all things scienctific and magic, is hopelessly awkward and tongue-tied with his young lady love.

    I also think that in the beginning he'd be more inclined to action. He did wield a sword, and I rather doubt that was something he picked up at the ripe old age of 648. Maybe he's actually hell bent on becoming a soldier as a teen, despite his teacher's/parents insistence that he is wasting his life, that he has a brilliant mind if only he would put it to use. Who says that gandalf has to make the right choices in the beginning? And who says that becoming a soldier is the wrong choice? He would gain a lot of practical, almost essential life experience for a wizard of gandalf's calibre. For one to truly know everything one must DO everything.

    Maybe he's actually handsome and suave as a young man, the ladies falling all over him. muscular and dashing and quick of wit. And not wise at all. No.. that wit, always getting him into trouble, insulting the pompous lordlings - him, a poor cobbler's son with a cheap sword and only boyish dreams of greatness of the most mundane kind...

    But then when does magic come into his life, hmm...? Maybe some great wizard senses the gift in him after he does some Aragorn-type adventuring. Or maybe it's a goblin shaman who really isn't that bad. Or maybe it's some crazy perverted old man he caught peeping at the women's bath! Maybe this old perv is really a great wizard himself and...

    Well, ok, that's just some basic archetype stuff.. nothing new there! But maybe it will give you some ideas.:)

    Curiosity is a good solid base to work from I think. Just think of all the ways curiosity might have killed the cat. Sky is the limit.
     
  10. Dead Bunny Man
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    Dead Bunny Man New Member

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    I think the story would be more interesting if it starts out as unbelievable. The bumbling idiot, the head strong teenager, the kid with no interest what so ever in magic. Then tell the story on how the change came about that caused him to become a great wizard.

    As for limitations on personality...There should be no reason for such a limit to exist. He can have any personality you would like to give him.
     
  11. akania
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    akania Member

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    Merlin : Reckless, over confident, egotistical realised that some things should not be meddled with and reigned himself in.

    Gandalf : Hmm i'll go with the same, more exciting if its dark ;)
     
  12. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    I'd also draw the comparison to the new Star Trek movie. Old Kirk being the wizard and the movie focused on his first adventure.

    The problem with writing such a story is that you almost HAVE to use someone else’s established character. If not, there is no draw the early days of a character.
     
  13. lazerus reborn
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    lazerus reborn Member

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    A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin --

    Is a great example of a young wizards follies, and honestly you cant call yourself a fantasy writer unless youv read one of her stories anyway, -lol

    I read it in a day non-theless and it was very creative, and is the main roots for stories such as Eragon, and the others in the series are just as good. I prefer wizard of the earth sea though, (knights ### another dragon knight series, but i cant put a name to it, -_-)

    anyho, reckless is an always must, you dont know the stove hurts untill you touch it,
    smart route could be used but it depends on the character,

    most other information has already been said so,

    cheers -cb
     
  14. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    With "Magician" by Ray Feist, we see the progression from a young boy to the most powerful wizard of his time. However, it's hardly an overdone subgenre and there are plenty of new angles to be had.
     
  15. Atma
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    Atma Member

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    oh, Iolair! I had completely forgotten about that book and now you've made me want to reread it. It's the one with Pug, right? I remember I liked it.
     
  16. jonathan hernandez13
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    jonathan hernandez13 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would definetly check out either of the two made-for-TV Merlin movies, especially the first one, it shows him as a teenager.

    I guess just like any youth your MC could be rash and impatient, but at some point they will discover that they are different. They may know because they have been told (and taught in a wizard's academy, Rowling?). For those unfortunate enough to not know, they find out the hard way. They will face fear from the 'normals', they will be feared for being different. They may live solitary and lonely lives, and that goes hand in hand with being mysterious and scary.
     
  17. scifihero
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    scifihero Member

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    A young Gandalf? Very interesting thought. We all love those old ambiguous characters. If I were to make a young Gandalf I would think him to be the opposite of himself with a strong good core centrally. He would be the best physically, not muscular but handsome and athletic. He would be full of himself, arrogant, impatient. Maybe a little like teen age Skywalker. But lawful good as a DND would put it, never doubting the difference between good and evil.

    In order to be the character of experience he is as an old man he would've had to experience about everything there is, first hand, that built that experience.
     
  18. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    Two other characters come into mind - someone that we do get to see their "younger days" on occasion.

    Obi-wan was headstrong and impatient when he was young. He was very serious and focused early on, but by the time he becomes the "old wizard" he is whimsical and relaxed.

    Picard was also headstrong and restless when he was young - the episode where he almost died in a bar fight in his cadet-days.

    Bold, headstrong, reckless - the type to make lots of mistakes - usually yields wiser people later (at least in stories)
     
  19. Laverick
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    Laverick Member

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    I could and, just may, write a wizard manual.

    There are many good examples of young wizards you could use. I'm not even sure where to start, have you read any teen fantasy? When I was young I read the Circle books by Tamora Pierce.

    These books are about mages/elementors. From a nerd stand point they aren't exactly wizards. They have powers they're usually trying to harness (or make practical). While this is true of wizard talent, wizards usually are more of the tinkering sort in my mind. Diana Waynne Jones wrote Howl's Moving Castle and the work I like even better from her Conrad's Fate. These stories actually involved wizards. If you're looking for something more quirky there's also Terry Pratchett's Disc World novels. The Color of Magic and The Great Fantastic have a drop out, college/highschool aged wizards in them. There's also the very popular Harry Potter. These are just a spec of dust among the thousands of wizards in books (not to mention other medias).

    I would recommend all the books I mentioned, however you may not want to take the time to read them. But it's important to writers to also be readers, you learn a lot and it's extremely helpful.

    Wizards come in a few varieties, but traditionally they're nerds. If you look at a standard travel group there's a warrior, a mage/wizard, a heroine, and maybe a side kick. Sometimes a wizard is a side kick. In this case, of a group, a wizard is typically the nerd with the know how. The warrior would be a good hearted jock and of course there's the jock's girlfriend and his best friend (which could be human or beast).

    Wizards in their own element tend to value themselves as individuals, but let's look at the two major wizards, the ones you mentioned. Merlin and Gandalf. Now I haven't actually read books with Merlin in them. I've seen the Disney version and I think I've seen him in movies about King Aurthur.

    Merlin has several depictions, being something of the wizard mascot. In the Disney version he's a full blown nerd, a forgetful professor, and a book worm. He was probably similar in his young age, if a little more clear minded. I would depict this Merlin as something of a day dreamer, a book worm, but also absent minded enough to get himself in trouble and destroy things on accident. He probably got notions from things in books then experimented.

    There's also the more mature version of Merlin, being more of an adviser, inventor and helper to the king. This Merlin was probably responsible as a young man, probably looked over someone or something. He was probably also involved in his work, but Mature Merlin is more developed socially and as a person. I can imagine this Merlin would be more well traveled and interested in how the world around him works. The Disney Merlin probably has traveled too, but was more specifically looking for valuable items or books, as opposed to the Merlin who might just take things as they come and pick up any trinket or rumor that interested him.

    Gandalf is more like the Mature Merlin, but he's quite a loner. Coming in as he's needed and leaving just as quickly. He was probably a loner in his younger life and somewhat cold to social interaction. Maybe he had love and lost it, but nothing from his past messes up his clear mind and sense of judgment. Gandalf is very focused and knows what has to be done (which is very different from an absent minded wizard). While he is a wizard he 's more concerned with his role as a helper and protector for a greater cause. He's a powerful wizard and somehow he had to get that way. Was he talented, determined, obsessive or did he have a very good mentor? Unlike wizards who like tinkering and treasures, Gandalf is in-tune to nature and the world. He doesn't often bother with trinkets and he doesn't sit around in a tower reading books. He travels a lot so it's probably something he's use to. I think he likely had a mentor and that's why he offers himself as one and likes people. Gandalf has a personality that's been built upon and refined. It's hard to define what he was originally. He's a negotiator, was he a peacemaker as a child? He's responsible and organized, was he the oldest of many sibling or disciplined? He's caring, he's a leader, he's a loner,he's wise and he's powerful. From an Epic literature standpoint he's understandably this way and symbolic. As a normal character he would be very complicated and have a rich, perhaps tragic past.

    I haven't really read a ton about particularly reckless young wizards. They might be stubborn, but it seems like they're trying to find and/or establish themselves. I can imagine a wizard being reckless as a young person. I wouldn't write them reckless in the same way a warrior would be reckless. A warrior I would write looking for fights and a wizard maybe too carried away with their ideas.

    Another way you can get a feel for wizards is in video games. I would not necessarily suggest playing them, because they can get obsessive. There are many many wizards, mages and wise men in video games. I play MMOs, which don't only take time, they demand it.

    I've seen "Mages" more commonly than wizards in video games and there are MMOs where you level to a different class. Don't play them, but you can look up MMOs and their Class Descriptions for magic types. Mages tend to have lower health points than warriors and are a distance support class. When it comes to MMOs ideally there are the tanks, the Damage Per Second (mages) and most Importantly the Healer/Buffer. Mages are sometimes hard to level, but turn out powerful.

    Oddly one of my favorite games involving wizards is an online flash game that has to do with mixing gems and fighting off evil creatures from your tower. GemCraft.

    If you're going to write a story with a wizard as a main character and you haven't had much experience with such characters you should try forum Role Playing. It does wonders for fleshing out characters, it's just important to remember to stick to the personality you gave the character and make a Bio that would be reasonable to the character. RPing is a place that's okay to mess up, but if you want to get better with characters you have to consider a lot of aspects and actually have their history and personality in mind.

    Some overall points about wizards:
    >All wizards read to some extent
    >Wizards have a tendency to use trinkets or become in tune with nature to boost power
    >Like to invent and experiment
    >Are usually well traveled
    >Wizard mentors are rarely married or even have a gf/bf. They rarely hang out with each other or form wizard groups.
     
  20. losthawken
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    losthawken Author J. Aurel Guay Role Play Moderator Contributor

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    Wow, what great comments and idea's. Thanks all!

    Here's a few thoughts of my own that have finally melded.

    I think that the character I have in mind will of course have a troubled childhood, but more abandoned than abused. This will help motivate his desire to serve, protect and guide others. Most of the archetypical characters have unshakable scruples, the kind that don't develop from a past full of violence and hate

    He's an introvert with a flagrant but wit, but a very very dry one.

    He searches for some truth about his own mysterious past, which leads him to be well traveled.

    He is also a nurturer, and can't pass up an opportunity to help someone learn and grow. This tendency helps to develop him into an excellent mentor, but also to have a far reaching network of friends indebted to him in some way.

    I already wrote a first pass of my interpretation of the character mid-way through his first adventure

    Thanks all and keep the idea's coming its really neat to explore idea's and interpretations of such archetypical characters.

    ~JG

    P.S. Laverick: Thanks for such a thorough post! I'm a big fan of the wizards of video games, and I recently discovered GemCraft and LOVE IT!!
     
  21. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    No offense, but I wonder if you aren't looking at this the complete wrong way around.

    Why not start by deciding what kind of character you actually want to write him as? Do you want him to be rash and impulsive? Or maybe insecure and naive? What role fits the story you have in mind the most?

    Once you know this, you can focus on figuring out what events turned him into that classic warrior-wizard sage. That will be the story you are trying to tell, no?
     

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